RB Leipzig cup winner for the first time

Nfter the final whistle for extra time between SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig, the appropriate song was played in the Berlin Olympic Stadium: “Show must go on”. In football, when a game is all-important, it’s called a penalty shoot-out. The 120 minutes beforehand had already delivered everything that makes a great cup fight.

Nkunku (76th minute) leveled Leipzig 1-1 in the second half with a man down after Eggestein took the lead for Freiburg (19th). And later Kampl, who had already been substituted, was sent off again in a passionate fight in which Freiburg came very close to winning on several occasions. Outnumbered, Leipzig finally saved themselves in the penalty shootout – and emerged as the happy winner.

“It’s crazy, we played 60 minutes with ten men,” said RB managing director Oliver Mintzlaff after the 4-2 triumph on penalties in the DFB Cup final on ARD: “Today we’re going to really let it rip, that’s for a historic evening for us.”

As the fourth Freiburg shooter, Demirovic only hit the crossbar, just like in extra time. Leipzig won the penalty shoot-out 4-2 because previously Günter from Freiburg had shot his penalty over the goal, while all Leipzig scored: Nkunku, Orban, Olmo and Henrichs.

After two defeats in the finals in 2019 under coach Rangnick (0:3 against Bayern) and 2021 under Nagelsmann (1:4 against BVB), Leipzig made their third attempt with coach Tedesco to win the DFB Cup for the first time in the club’s young history. And that in a final in which the Saxons overcame all odds.

Completely detached: Leipzig players after the decision

Completely detached: Leipzig players after the decision

Image: AFP

And the resistances started early. How to give this gate? All football fans who support RB Leipzig asked themselves this question in the 19th minute. After Eggestein’s opening goal to make it 1-0, the Leipzig players attacked the referee because they had seen exactly what every fan could see on TV. Freiburg’s Sallai had stumbled the ball after Günter’s cross from the baseline and handed it directly to Eggestein, who then shot goalkeeper Gulacsi from around twenty meters into the back corner with no chance of defence.

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Of course, the video assistant also watched the questionable scene. He came to the conclusion that the ball had accidentally flown from Sallais’s body to his hand and that’s why the goal counted – despite the obvious handball. This means that this cup final also had a hand penalty discussion before the penalty shoot-out. One of the kind that there had been far too many of in the Bundesliga this season.

The Freiburg lead with a handball template fell out of the blue in terms of scoring chances. It was the first chance for Streich’s team after Leipzig had caused unrest and danger in front of Flekken’s goal five minutes earlier through Forsberg and Nkunku. But Freiburg, even before their lead through physical presence and determination, had left no doubt that the club, founded in 1904, would not let their first chance at a title against the upstart Leipzig slip past them.

With the lead behind them, Freiburg appeared to be even stronger, but two slips in the 24th minute almost allowed Leipzig to equalise. Nkunku got the ball past goalkeeper Flekken, but Schlotterbeck was wide awake and cleared just before the line. The future Dortmund player cheers after his rescue as if he had scored a goal himself in his last game for Freiburg. But that’s how it felt at that moment for the well over 30,000 Freiburg fans who initially set the tone in the stands in the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

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